Hulu to Adapt Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man as a Series

Hulu will adapt Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man as a series, bringing the same spirit as its success with The Handmaid’s Tale.

In the quickly-evolving, Netflix-dominated, arena of premium streaming services, Hulu managed to make a monumental mark this year with its Emmys-accumulating television series, The Handmaid’s Tale, adapting Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, showcasing a dystopian society in which a totalitarian theocracy institutionally subjugates women; a series loaded with timely topical themes. Consequently, the streaming outlet will continue that winning formula by adapting another socially poignant literary work in Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man.

Hulu is in early development stages of adapting Invisible Man as a series, reports Variety. The streaming outlet, which acquired the rights to the 1952 novel from the Ralph and Fanny Ellison Charitable Trust, is moving forward with their small-screen serial adaptation, having appointed John Callahan as executive producer. Indeed, The Handmaid’s Tale proved to be a proverbial North Star for the streaming outlet, something that tends to occur after winning EIGHT Emmy awards for a single season of television. As Hulu’s senior Vice President of content, Craig Erwich, told the trade shortly after those September wins:

“We’re looking to tell intimate character stories against large worlds and large canvases that have really strong, resonant, and permanent dramatic underpinnings.”

Ellison’s Invisible Man will certainly fit that mission. The novel, considered to be one of the most important pieces of literature to deal with racial strife in 20th century United States, is told from the perspective of a never-named African-American narrator, who recalls a painful odyssey, starting with his youth in the South, where his achievement of getting into college is stultified by a series of wrong-place-wrong-time incidents and disingenuous faculty members sabotaging his prospects. While seemingly finding some acceptance after a migration North to New York City, his disillusionment eventually returns after experiences with a black nationalist group, arriving at the unfortunate epiphany that his dehumanizing status as an “invisible man” is not quite restricted to racial lines.

Invisible Man made a contemporaneous impact in a generally white literary world, winning the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953 and is frequently cited amongst prestigious lists of the best novels of the 20th century. Indeed, the work proves itself to be more than just a “racial” novel, showcasing a groundbreaking surreal representation of personal alienation filtered through the prism of perspective – almost akin literary contemporary J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” – that is inherently identifiable to just about anyone.

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There’s no word yet on when to expect Invisible Man on Hulu, since the planning gears for the series are just starting to turn.

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